the goat life, the goat life review, prithviraj sukumaran

The Goat Life

Bubble Rating:
3.0 stars

Director: Blessy

Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, KR Gokul, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Amala Paul, Shobha Mohan, Talib Al Balushi, Rik Aby, Nazer Karutheni

Platform: In theatres

Duration: 173 minutes

The Goat Life Movie Review

Starring Prithviraj Sukumaran in the lead, The Goat Life is an adaptation of Benyamin’s 2008 best-selling Malayalam novel Aadujeevitham. This survival drama – based on true incidents, talks about the plight of Malayali immigrant labourer Najib. It dwells on the 3 ½ he was forced into slavery as a goatherd on a secluded farm in Saudi Arabia. How he lands in Saudi, the torture he faces as a goatherd and his journey escaping from there is what makes up the rest of the film. Najib’s unimaginable suffering will make you flinch.

What Works:

The biggest positive for this film is Prithviraj Sukumaran’s raw and gritty performance as Najib. Couple that with KR Gokul’s heart-wrenching performance as Hakim, a well-written script by Blessy and an original score by AR Rahman, the film will touch your soul.

What Doesn’t Work:

Two things make The Goat Life a tedious watch – its nearly 3-hour long runtime and the lack of consistent Arab dialogue translation. The beginning is slow, and if you have a tiring day, it may cause you to doze off. However, it picks up pace before the interval.

Technical Analysis

Story, Script & Dialogues

The story of The Goat Life hasn’t taken any cinematic liberties in being the adaptation of Benyamin’s 2008 best-selling Malayalam novel Aadujeevitham to the big screen. The story focuses on Najib’s family life – even if it’s for about 10 minutes only, and his struggles while in Saudi Arabia. There is no unwanted spin or songs added to give it a commercial taste.

The screenplay and dialogues by Blessy don’t stand out much. While most of the conversations happen in Arabic – and they aren’t always translated, viewers aren’t able to enjoy the work of Blessy to the fullest. The screenplay is crisp for the most part, however, there are instances where you wish Blessy had got straight to the point instead of beating around the rocks in the isolated desert.


While Blessy may have lacked to a small extent as the film’s script and dialogue writer, he did an impressive job as its director. From capturing the innocent romance between Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Najib and Amala Paul’s Sainu to the hardships Najib and Hakim (played by KR Gokul) suffer due to the backbreaking work and inhumane conditions they are kept in, Blessy deserves a round of applause.


Editor A Sreekar Prasad has done a good job; however, the audience would be happier if he was able to reduce the runtime of The Goat Life by at least 5-10 minutes in the first half – the second half will have you on the edge of your seat.

The VFX work by Anibrain doesn’t seem out of place, so that is a plus to the makers.


Cinematographer Ajesh Chandran and Director Of Photography (DoP) Sunil K.S has done a commendable job in capturing the emptiness of the desert with the help of light and shadows. The angles used while filming Prithviraj Sukumaran’s scenes with the cattle – camels, sheep and goats, clearly show the bond the goatherd shared with his cattle. Certain scenes may make you feel you’re watching a documentary with real-life footage instead of a film on the big screen.

Costume & Makeup

The clothing used in The Goat Story is simple – no disrespect to costume designer Stephy Zaviour for it as the script demanded it. However, the makeup by Renjith Ambady is commendable. The makeup used here is not to add glamour but to bring out the harshness Najib and Hakim faced as goatherds in a land where they knew no one. The makeup makes the characters’ age and shows his plight to perfection – it will touch your soul.


The film – while keeping its main focus on the hardships Najib, Hakim and Khadiri face at the hands of their kafeel (the person who sponsors expatriate workers in the kingdom), has music that adds to the longing and torture the characters are going through. Aside from Khatti Si Woh Imli, all the other songs in the film – Meherbaan O Rahman, Benevolent Breeze, Badaweih (a Palestinian folk song) and Istighfar, will touch your soul. The lyrics penned by Prasoon Joshi (Hindi) and AR Rahman give the songs life.

Star Performances 

Without a doubt, the star performers of The Goat Story are Prithviraj Sukumaran and KR Gokul. The audience will get to see Prithviraj like never before. His character’s journey showcases the actor’s acting prowess beautifully as we get to see a variety of expressions as well as changes in his body language and dialogue delivery as Najib goes from being a spirited youth wanting to earn a living abroad to a slave willing to face death but not continue living an inhumane life. His interaction will the animals will touch you, especially if you are an animal person (you may need tissues).

KR Gokul as Hakim – another immigrant labourer suffering the same fate as Najib, will make you cry. The actor beautifully showcases the emotions of a young boy desperate to escape a fate he never imagined he would face. His hopes and dreams crashing as they escape into the harsh desert are extremely sad.

Jimmy Jean-Louis as Khadiri played a small but pivotal role in the narrative. Without dropping any spoilers, let us tell you Jimmy plays his part, but we wonder what happened to him in the end. Amala Paul as Sainu (Najib’s wife) and Shoba Mohan as Ummah (Najib’s mother) have very limited screentime. Talib’s performance as Kafeel will make you want to get up and scream or maybe even whip him.


The Goat Life is a good watch thanks to Prithviraj Sukumaran and KR Gokul’s raw and gritty performances as Najim and Hakim, respectively and the story. That being said, it is lengthy and will bore you at the start, but will bring you to the edge of your seat in the second half. If you are a Prithviraj fan please watch it as the actor’s decade-long hard work is clearly noticeable.  

Watch the trailer of The Goat Life

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